“Let your life be one big Hallelujah!”
How lucky we are to be on this planet and how ungrateful we are too. I mean, if you think about it, we are presented with so many gifts each day – people, places and things – but we clearly do not fully appreciate that we have more than enough, more than what is needed to be healthy and happy. I am a desperately miserable person in this regard. At the end of the day, I give thanks for as much as I can think of, but the list seldom goes beyond my number of fingers. Yet, when I am truly connected, I see my life like a whole department store of blessings and graces each and every day. Continue reading
I’ve been reflecting lately on the state of our relationships. I think it is fair to say that we all have a degree of harmony and disharmony with others. There is a smoothness with those we get on well with; there is a synchronising of heart rhythms when we are together. We trust each other, love each other and care for each other. We create a homely atmosphere wherever we may be: at a coffee shop, in the work canteen, in the park. Conversely, we feel tension and frustration with those we don’t see eye to eye with: our heart rhythms repel when we are together. We are vigilant and on guard for any verbal attacks. We are cautious and don’t share too much. We are happy to see each other’s backs. Isn’t it a curious thing? How can we grow in wisdom and love? Continue reading
In the midst of my challenges, I am tempted to panic and say, “I am out of here. This is too much. I can’t do it.” But then I remember what my practice of Zen is teaching me: “Complete things, Gavin. Follow them through, whether it is education, apprenticeships or new year’s resolutions”. Continue reading
I was comforted by the words of a Sensei (teacher) during a Zen retreat at the Dominican Retreat Centre in Tallaght, Dublin over the weekend. She invited us at the beginning of the retreat to ponder the “bursts” (or opportunities of ‘bursting’) in our lives. In Buddhism, we often hear about enlightenment and we are told that when a person becomes enlightened it is as if heaven and earth crumble before their eyes. There is a sudden burst of newness that can transform the person’s life for evermore.
But the Sensei was suggesting that we can experience many little moments of enlightenment too. I rejoiced at dinner, for example, when my perceived cold mince pie turned out to be crumbly hot! I was grateful when my sudden drop of blood pressure during meditation re-awakened me with what seemed like a mild electric boost. Even the potted ‘Christmas Cactus’ in the photo seemed to want to burst out in praise in the midst of winter. Continue reading
I wrote a reflection recently on how I live with others, which was essentially about navigating the many webs of relationships in my life for optimal mental health and well-being. Living with bipolar disorder means that I need to remain vigilant to the potentially severe changes and challenges of mood which are characteristic of the illness. However, I want to shift the focus to how others live with me for this blogpost. I include here a number of reflections from important people in my life and I respond to each while being mindful of their needs. I am sincerely grateful to them for agreeing to publish their comments which I hope will resonate with readers.
“There was only one time when you were different than usual over the past year. You were talking very quickly and loudly, and we were both concerned. But you were still able to express yourself. We checked in with you on that occasion and you were fine the next day. As far as your low mood is concerned, we don’t notice anything unusual about it.” Continue reading
I was intrigued to find out this week that the word desire may well derive from a sense of being cut off from the stars (sidus – star in Latin), from remote things that are simply not attainable. In my own experience, my deepest desires have certainly seemed remote at times and I have plunged into despair. Now, by looking at my concrete realities, I’m realising that what I really want is actually within my reach. I am learning that I need to place my feet firmly on the ground in order to wish, long, and yearn.
What the heart wants
Blogger Michele Campbell reminded me that my deepest desires were put deep within my heart so I wouldn’t lose them. What a wonderful thought and how grateful I feel when pondering it. Beautiful desires are actually accessible and ready to be found if I only look to my heart. Once again, I stop gazing at the stars and instead listen to what I really want in life. I want to promote the psycho-spiritual needs of the general public through blogging, journalism, and doing a masters in applied spirituality. I want to work towards the more universal good and make a contribution. Continue reading
The spiritual path is one of many twists and turns. Much of our journeys involve going through unknown territory and we learn to be okay with this. One characteristic that defines spiritual maturity is gratitude for the many gifts that we have been given in our ordinary realities and relationships. And this brings us to an important concept.
“Thankful in all things” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
To be thankful in all things, we really must begin with the basics – thankful for a tea and chat with a friend, for a unique sunset, and for a gentle breeze. I am thankful for my faith, interest in psychology and spirituality, my girlfriend, accommodation, and career. But I am well aware that I am far from being thankful in all things. In my low mood, for example, I find it hard to be thankful for anything in my life. It all just seems too much and there is a pull towards an overly-internalised world which stretches away from reality. I need to look elsewhere for inspiration. Continue reading